NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Obama Administration Calls for Limits on Testing in Schools

October 30, 2015

On Saturday, the Obama administration called for schools to cap assessment, limiting the time students spend on taking tests to no more than 2 percent of classroom instruction time. The administration admitted responsibility in the proliferation of tests and encouraged Congress to "reduce over-testing."

Across the nation, the response to the White House's statement has been positively received by teachers unions, administrators and students. Originally, federal programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top were created to enforce higher expectations and accountability as well as close the achievement gaps between races. But by connecting funding to student test scores, parents and schools resisted the "one size fits all" approach.

  • On average, between pre-K and high school graduation students in big-city schools take 112 mandatory standardized tests -- eight tests per year, not including Advanced Placement exams, the SAT or ACT.
  • In 8th grade standardized tests take up 2.3 percent of the entire school year or 20-25 hours of classroom instructional time.

Additionally, more time spent on tests does not correlate to improved academic performance. While standardized tests are helpful tools and will not be eliminated completely, the administrations encouragement to decrease tests is a step in the right direction.

Source:  Kate Zernike, "Obama Administration Calls for Limits on Testing in Schools," New York Times, October 24, 2015.


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